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SummaryA decent game that displays the power of the Nintendo DS, but has some drawbacks...
The Good--> Great graphics and animation overall: the city is quite large and rotates around Spiderman at certain points, and the animation for both Spiderman and his enemies is fluid and realistic, the framerate rarely drops below 60 FPS. The included pre-rendered movies are a nice touch as well.
--> Levels are generally well designed and represent an appropriate sense of scale, and it's just plain addictive web swinging around them.
--> Shows of some of the potential of the touch screen in a few places (eg. bomb defusal, reactor levels)
The Bad--> There are only a few varieties of enemies, and all the bi-pedal enemy types seem to have the same animation and behavior, while the animation of Spidey and his enemies is very fluid, the models themselves could use a few more polygons, looking like slightly souped up Atari Jaguar game models on closer inspection.
--> Combat: Once an enemy catches you in an attack combo, and vice-versa, it is nearly impossible to break out of it. The controls can be sluggish at times, and definitly take some getting used to
--> Music/Sound: Consisting of uninspired looping techno beats, the music in this game will have you pining for a music volume control. The voice acting (the few lines there are) is decent, but the generic cries of the hostages begin to annoy toward the end of the first stage.
--> With no in-game map, most levels involve a certain degree of backtracking and replaying to complete...this game definitly takes patience. With only 14 missions, a reasonably experienced gamer can complete this game in a week or two...though there is the option of replaying chapters to unlock special moves and gain the elusive "A" rank.
--> No multiplayer : this could have really helped the replay value.
--> A few bugs occasionally: game can lock up on occasion, and pushing a certain two special moves on the touch screen simultaneously causes spidey to shoot a web trap.
--> A little expensive at $35-40, would have sold much better at $25 or less (though I received mine as a gift with the system)
The Bottom LineMany people may expect this title to be a graphical downgrade of its reasonably successful console big brother...they would be wrong. For this title, Vicarious Visions decided to slightly revamp the old school gameplay of the previous Gameboy Advance game, and to some degree, they were successful.
This title loosely follows the plot of the Spiderman 2 movie, taking a few liberties along the way. For those few MobyGames readers who may not have picked up a Spiderman comic in their lifetime, here is the general story of Spiderman: Peter Parker is a lone wolf science buff, he lives with his Aunt May, made a widow after his uncle was shot by a crook. After receiving a bite from a radioactive spider while on a high school field trip to a prominent museum, he discovers he has been granted spider-like superpowers (eg. wall climbing, webbing, superhuman strength). Peter decides to use his powers to find his uncle's killer, and protect the people of the city (mainly his constant infatuation, Mary Jane Watson).
Gameplay involves web swinging, jumping, crawling and laying a beatdown on a 2D plane with 3D models, objects and backgrounds. Missions (called "chapters") range from rescuing hostages in a burning buildings to swinging around the city defusing bombs before times run out to fast paced boss battles on top of buildings and speeding trains. The gameplay is fun and fast, with a variety of moves (pending unlocking) at your disposal, there are usually a few different ways to approach combat (eg. web-throwing enemies off of tall buildings instead of taking the time to beat them senseless). The monotony is broken up by bomb defusal, circuit breaking and boss battle chapters, which make decent use of the touch screen and are quite fun. The boss battles range from Mysterio to Octavius, and are quite challenging, usually requiring more than one play to complete (special meter upgrades really make them easier, and necessitate thorough exploration of earlier levels)...my personal favorite is the chapter where you battle Doctor Octavius atop a speeding train, also a great use of the engine.
Controlling spidey takes some getting used to as it can be tempermental at times (eg. wall climbing), the left and right face buttons allow Spiderman to kick and punch, respectively, while the upper and lower face buttons control Spidey's web lines and jumping (a double tap of the jump button while in the air allows you to web swing). Spidery can attach himself to any solid surface by shooting a web line at it, and he becomes an invincible speeding bullet while performing the manuever. When a spidey sense icon flashes over Spiderman's head during battle a quick tap of the left shoulder button will slow time down for a limited time (though it does not slow the time for the chapter, so it should be used sparingly) allowing Spiderman to dodge bullets and blows with ease, and artful use of this ability is critical during boss battles. Tapping the right shoulder button activates the special move that is currently selected on the touch screen, ranging from the slide tackle to the power punch.
Graphically, this game is perhaps the most impressive display of the power of the Nintendo DS handheld save Metroid Prime: Hunters, the city is well modelled with a large view distance and nice touches like beaten up cars in side alleys, trash bins and trees. The texture quality is nice, and the animation is superb, with a fluidity comparable to console games, It's just a shame the models aren't a bit more detailed (tho this only really becomes apparant on close inspection, which is really not an issue on a handheld platform), because a few more enemy types and a few more polygons really would have made the graphics fantastic, but I suppose they had to make some sacrifices to achieve a constant framerate, and for a first-generation title, this is excellent.
The audio is less than spectacular, consisting of generic techno beats, the repetitive yells of hostages and generic yells and squinks of crooks and robots. Not the worst audio in the world, and actually, the voice acting is decent, but the audio definitly could have used some polishing.
After completing this game, I would have to give it a 4/5 - a pretty beat-em-up/adventure game that makes moderate use of the touch screen, and while not terribly innovative, it is quite fun and addictive, while it lasts...but I might wait for the price to go down as it is a bit pricey at the moment. Definitly a diamond in the rough of the handful of DS titles available at the time of this review. Spiderman fans will absolutely love this game, and everybody else will agree it's a decent title that deserves a play through. A few tweaks and additions could have made this good game great, but it is quite admirable for a first effort, and shows off the power of the DS platform.